- 1. Career
Malcolm Ainsworth Hulke was a British television writer and author of the industry "bible" Writing for Television in the 70s. He is remembered chiefly for his work on the science fiction series Doctor Who although he contributed to many popular television series of the era.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Hulke was involved with the socialist Unity Theatre, serving as its production manager in the mid-1950s, and wrote a booklet in 1961 celebrating the theatre's 25th anniversary. Hulke met writer Eric Paice at Unity and the two wrote as a team for television beginning in the late-1950s with “This Day in Fear”, which was produced by BBC Television in 1958 as part of its Television Playwright anthology series. The pair then wrote four plays for ABC's Armchair Theatre, produced by future Doctor Who creator Sydney Newman. Hulke and Paice also co-wrote two B-movie screenplays, Life in Danger, released in 1959 by Butchers Films, and The Man in the Back Seat, released in June 1961 by Independent Artists Studio.
In 1960, Newman commissioned Hulke and Paice to write a children's science fiction serials for ABC – Target Luna. Its success led to Newman hiring them to write three more series: Pathfinders in Space, Pathfinders to Mars, and Pathfinders to Venus.
Newman went on to hire Hulke to write a total of nine episodes of The Avengers, four of which he co-wrote with Terrance Dicks, a friend and lodger at the rooming house Hulke managed and whom Hulke recruited as a co-writer when he learned of his desire to break into television.
Newman moved to BBC Television to become its Head of Drama and, in 1964, asked Hulke to write a six part story for a new series Newman had created, Doctor Who. The story, “The Hidden Planet”, was about a twin planet of Earth's hidden on the other side of the Sun. Hulke's story was not produced but he went on to write for the series beginning in 1967.
In addition to the Pathfinders series, Doctor Who, and The Avengers, Hulke contributed scripts to a number of television series in the 1960s and 1970s including The Protectors, Danger Man, Crossroads, football soap United!, Gideon's Way, and was script editor for Spyder's Web.
His scripts for Doctor Who were known for avoiding black-and-white characterisation and simplistic plotting. Military figures are usually presented unfavourably – Invasion of the Dinosaurs and The Ambassadors of Death both have a general as the ultimate villain. One of his best-known contributions to the series is Doctor Who and the Silurians. This story depicts an encounter between the human race and the remnants of a technological reptilian race that ruled Earth in prehistoric times. Hulke avoids casting either side as heroes or monsters.
He was a friend and mentor to Terrance Dicks, with whom he collaborated in 1962 on The Avengers episode "The Mauritius Penny", which was Dicks' first television credit; The War Games, Dicks' first Doctor Who script, and on the non-fiction book The Making of Doctor Who.
He also contributed to Target Books' range of Doctor Who novelisations, adapting many of his scripts before his death, as well as 1973's The Green Death. Hulke's novelisations were noted for providing a wealth of additional background detail and character depth. He wrote an influential screenwriting manual, Writing for television in the 70s in 1974, and an updated version, Writing for Television, which was released posthumously in 1981.